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ONTARIO: Stay safe and sturdy while ice fishing this year

An expert ice fishing guide recommends caution and vigilance when heading out onto the ice
Ice fishing huts. Photo/Stock

Peak ice fishing season is just around the corner, and this coming weekend and beyond will likely be busy for anglers looking to get out onto the ice. But an ice fishing expert says there are a few key things to keep in mind to stay safe and prevent tragedy.

The colour of the ice can tell you a lot about its sturdiness -- black or clear ice is the safest, while white or honeycombed ice is best avoided. Regardless of what you may see online, there is no substitute for getting a look at the ice with your own eyes.

"I've seen things on Facebook like, 'How's the ice on White Lake' for example. Well, White lake is a big lake, and some of the bays might have a foot of ice, but into the main part of the lake you might have two inches of ice," said Yannick Laranger, owner, Ottawa River Guided Fishing.

Because a frozen lake or river can have both safe and unsafe areas, Laranger suggests paying attention to what others have done or are doing: is there an already-established road onto the ice? Is there an absence of huts or trucks in one area or another?

As for checking the thickness of the ice, Laranger suggests physically checking with a hatchet, making sure there is at least a foot of ice before thinking about taking a vehicle out onto it.

While Tuesday's daytime temperatures will be above freezing, seasoned anglers like Laranger aren't concerned.

"Sixteen inches of ice I'm standing on right now will be very minimally affected," Laranger explained. "Now, there are things like current that might be affected by a bit of a thaw that you have to keep in mind, but on a lake, a day of plus three [degrees Celcius] won't erase a week of -12 C."

Laranger predicts this weekend will be a good one for ice fishing, with the peak of the season coming over the next couple of weeks.


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